After dicing with death for almost five hours on the M1 it was good to change down a couple of gears and drive up the narrow, winding road to Swaledale and Keld. The cottage is old-fashioned with thick stone walls, a small stone-flagged kitchen and so on.
However, it is well equipped with all mod cons and what is especially pleasing are the fresh flowers, bottle of wine, charged ice tray, dark chocolate digestives and, the icing on the cake, Young Men in Spats by PG Wodehouse. You will have noticed one solecism; the double-glazed windows with white plastic frames and no glazing bars. I was unaware that the provision of books continues a tradition started in 1861.
While other places had Gold Rushes, Swaledale had a lead mining boom. After a hard day hacking and hewing, if that is how lead is extracted, my thoughts would turn to a drop of ale or something stronger. The Minister at Keld built the Literary Institute as a diversion for the miners and another five were built in villages along the dale. As so often happens it fell into disrepair but just last year this listed building was restored. I will be on the look-out for any remains of mining activity.
Something else unexpected: there is a nide of pheasant poults pecking in the field behind the cottage with a rabbit or two and field fares to keep them company. They must be reared birds but they will have to be tough to survive up here. It doesn’t matter, they are bred to die when the grouse shooting is over and the guns descend to the dales. We took a short walk down to the Swale and the walking looks promising, so long as the weather holds up. The swallows are skimming low which suggests otherwise. Note the absence of sheep. They read John Miller’s comment yesterday.